The Role of Hâsya in Shrngâra
By Sunthar Visuvalingam
Published with author’s permission from: http://www.svabhinava.org/hasy-abh/Thesis-8.html
- Though Abhinava generalizes Bharata’s formula derivinghâsyafrom the ‘imitation’ or ‘semblance’ of shrngâra to (the imitation of) all the rasas, the privileged relationship of hâsya with shrngâra still needs to be justified theoretically and demonstrated practically. Bhoja’s objection that hâsya sometimes does not arise from shrngâra answered by restricting the scope of hâsya to love-in-union (sambhoga) and minimizing its role in “love-in-separation” (vipralambha). The principle of rasavirodha.
- Jagannâtha onhâsa as inevitable vyabhicârin of shrngâra. Especially in love-intrigues of nâtikas and versified portraitures of the amorous mood in muktakas. The sub-divisions of the “gay” style (kaishikî-vrtti), that is the vehicle of shrngârarasa are replete with elements of hâsya: especially narma and narmagarbha. Transitory negative emotions of kaishikî are often integral components of its hâsya dimension.
- Hâsya, unlike the otherrasas, is characterized by both poetic qualities (guna), ojas “energy” and mâdhurya “sweetness” because hâsa is expansive whereas hâsya is especially ancillary to shrngâra. Also hâsya being emotionally bisociative can comprise other rasas of ojas-nature. Mâdhurya predominates in sahâsya-shrngâra of kaishikî depending wholly on tanmayîbahavana, whereas ojas predominates in farces (prahasana) and the vidûshaka where hâsya is scarcely distinguishable from hâsa.
- Methodology ofhâsya-analysis in practical criticism ofmuktakas: choice of verses depicting the âshraya justified and the objections of sva-shabda-vâcyatâ and parastha-hâsa answered. The laughter mentioned merely serves to (re-) organize the sahrdayas apperception into an emotionally bisociative pattern relished independently of the âshraya’s laughter.
- Mammata’s example ofsvashabda-vâcyatâof vyabhicârins being exceptionally not a defect is actually an instance of these vyabhicârins contribution to hâsya that is not svashabda-vâcya. Example of narmagarbhainvolving complex interaction of three perspectives of which only two âshrayas are loci of hâsya: exploitation of the ambiguity of gesture.
- Since actual union is ruled out as tasteless but mutual pleasure must nevertheless be exploited to the maximum, the judicious introduction of negative transitory emotions that maintain tension and variety in the proximity ofsambhogarelies on the very bisociative technique that is the soul of hâsa and hâsya. For these contrary emotions have to be immediately or even simultaneously countered by others favorable to union. Objective hâsa in the poem is transformed into hâsya in the sahrdaya when the constituent emotions of these bisociations are evoked through aesthetic identification with different âshrayas.
- The absence ofhâsyain narmasphiñja is due to the direct intervention of fear in preventing the consummation of sambhoga. Fragments of other sentiments in narmasphota are often exploited for bisociative effects contributing to hâsya; without which the manifestations of mutual sambhoga are necessarily restrained. Narma proper without hâsya generally belongs more to vipralambha than to sambhoga.
- Hâsyais intrinsic to shrngâra due to the very technique of the latter’s presentation in drama and poetry. It shares all the mâdhurya of shrngâra because of its complete dependence on aesthetic identification. It’s generated especially at those strategic points where contrary perceptions criss-cross. The rasa-aesthetic privileges the “emotional center” in its treatment of hâsya proper, as evidenced by the fate of the elements of the “verbal wit-contests” (vîthyanga) in the development of Indian dramaturgy.
We have seen that the Nâtya Shâstra attributes hâsya to the semblance of love (shrngâra) or rather to its ‘imitation’ (shrngârânukriti), see especially chapter IX, note ???. Although Abhinavagupta extends the principle to all the rasas, making their semblances (âbhâsa) the cause of hâsya, it is pertinent to raise the question as to whether there is a more intrinsic and natural relationship between shrngâra and hâsya than between hâsya and the other rasas, which would perhaps account for Bharata’s choice of shrngâra in order to illustrate the evocation of hâsya through ‘imitation.’ “Bharata mentions in connection with the origin of hâsya, the imitation of shrngâra only, because we find hâsya in a large measure in love-dramas, as an auxiliary to love” (V. Raghavan, p.425). Bhoja goes out of his way to demolish Bharata’s scheme of primary derivative rasas, understood quite literally by him. He seeks to demonstrate that hâsya can rise from rasas other than shrngâra, and that it sometimes does not arise from shrngâra (Raghavan, Shrngâra Prakâsha, pp.498-99). But understood as merely indicative of various causal relationships between the rasas, it is immune to such criticism. “Thus Bharata’s text must be taken to mean as indicating a study of rasas from the point of view of their interrelations of how emotions are closely related and how one leads to the other” (ibid., p.425). Here we are interested only in the role of hâsya in shrngâra proper, that is in love-in-union (sambhoga-shrngâra), and not love-in-separation (vipralambha-shrngâra). Whereas hâsya tends to destroy rasas like vîra (heroism), raudra (anger), karuna (sorrow), bhayânaka (fear), when it has the same âshraya (receptacle) as them, it tends, on the contrary, to stimulate and enhance shrngâra when it occurs in the context of the latter. If it does not have prominence in vipralambha, this is because the element of sorrow (karuna) is more pronounced there and hâsya would tend to eclipse this vital element of pain. Thus even the example given by Bhoja to show how hâsyamay not be produced even in the context of shrngâra depicting the meeting of lovers, is in fact only an instance of “love-in-separation due to jealousy” (îrshyâ-vipralambha) and not of sambhoga, though it could easily be converted into one:
Recalling all the resentful indignation spilling over
In the presence, so anxiously procured, of her beloved,
Now mutely chiding her confidantes in love,
Lamented she was, and not laughingly derided!
A touch of hâsya here would not have destroyed the shrngâra but merely drawn it towards the orbit of sambhoga. As Raghavan observes: “The situation here is too pathetic for laughter. The thin border between comedy and tragedy is crossed. The situation does not produce laughter but only tears: ruditâ nopahâsitâ” (note, loc. cit.).
Hence Panditarâja Jagannâtha categorically states: “Wherever shrngâra is predominant, hâsa is an unavoidable ‘transitory emotion’ (vyabhicârin). It is a fact that it is in the works of shrngâra, especially in the ‘romantic plays’ (nâtikas) where female characters abound and the focus is on light-hearted love-intrigues or in the isolated love-verses (muktakas) which frame the subtlest fleeting gestures of mutual love, that most of the hâsya in literature is found; excepting, of course, the ‘farces’ (prahasanas) and the vidûshaka, where hâsa itself predominates. Hence the kaishikî, i.e., the ‘gentle’ or ‘gay’ mode or procedure (vrtti), which is invariably used to depict the ‘erotic sentiment’ (shrngâra) is also replete with elements of hâsya: of its four divisions, viz. narma, narmasphañja, narmasphota and narmagarbha, the first, i.e. narman, is pervaded by humor and laughter in all its eighteen sub-varieties, and the last, i.e., narma-garbha has one of its two sub-varieties based on humor. According to the Dasharûpaka, pleasantry (narman) is clever jesting that serves to conciliate the beloved. It is of three kinds depending on whether based on hâsyaalone (1), or expressive also of love or also of fear. The second kind (expressive also of love) is further subdivided into three types according to whether it consists in an allusion to oneself (as being amorous) (2), is expressive of (a desire for sexual) enjoyment (3) or of indignant jealousy (at the lover’s infidelity) (4). The narma may also be based on pure fear (5) or fear subordinated to some other sentiment (6). All six divisions are produced by speech, by costume (12) or by gesture (18). The pure hâsya of speech, costume and gesture no doubt applies above all to the vidûshaka who is himself immune to Cupid’s arrows, but his association with the ‘light-hearted’ (dhîra-lalita) hero (nâyaka) is, in aesthetic terms, only the conjunction of hâsya and shrngâra. In the three (= nine) varieties expressive of love, the latter can easily and often does blend with hâsya by constituting at least the positive pole of the affective structure of the bisociations. Similarly, in the two (= six) varieties expressive of fear, the latter comes naturally to constitute the opposing negative pole of the affective structure of hâsya (especially in ‘pure fear’), and where this fear itself is a form of ‘trepidation’ (trâsa) in the presence of the beloved generated by intense love, it is at the same time subordinated to shrngâra.
Abhinava emphasizes that hâsa (hâsya) is dominant in ‘jesting’ (narman) and that this is the general definition. But he distinguishes only three varieties in Bharata’s definition: the hâsa is either indicative of jealousy (4 above), as a means of reproach (also 4?), or to agitate the heart of another. (But would it be difficult to point out instances where the joking remark simultaneously fulfills all three functions?). For jealousy, he cites the mature queen Vâsavadattâ (in ‘The Jeweled Necklace’ Ratnâvalî II.18) when, pointing to the figure of her younger rival, the heroine Sâgarikâ, drawn beside that of the king on the picture-board, she laughingly demands whether this too is the product of the vidûshaka’s (supposed) artistry (amorous jealousy given vent through laughter). For the second variety where the hâsa is meant to reproach, he cites from the same play (ad. III. 13) Vâsavadattâ’s protestations when the king tries to placate her after having realized his error in adoring in verse (III.11) her physical charms under the impression that it was Sâgarikâ that he was thus exalting. For the third and last type, the same play (II, before v.1) when the maid Susangatâ, having caught Sâgarikâ with her freshly drawn portrait of the king which the heroine tries to cover up as that of the ‘God of Love’ (Kâmadeva), draws beside the king the portrait of Sâgarikâ pretending with a laugh that it is only Rati (‘Sexual Enjoyment,’ name of the wife of Kâma) herself. Here there is the bringing of another’s heart close to one’s own. Though hâsya is not a necessary part of the definition of the other two divisions (narma-sphañja and narma–sphota) of the Kaishikî mode, it is certainly not excluded from them as we shall see towards the close of this chapter. The above restatement of the forms of Kaishikî was meant not only to underline the intimate and indissociable blending of hâsya with shrngâra but especially to provide an insight into the manner in which transitory negative emotions (vyabhicârins) of love like fear, jealousy, indignation, etc., may at the same time be effective constituents of hâsya. In the illustrative verses to be dissected below, we shall see concrete examples of the masterly exploitation of such possibilities.
So closely is shrngâra associated with hâsya in Abhinava’s aesthetic perception that it determines the choice of ‘poetic qualities’ (guna) he attributes to hâsya, while distributing them in various proportions among the nine rasas. Ânanadavardhana had already qualified shrngâra as “the sweetest and most delectable of all aesthetic sentiments. The quality of sweetness (mâdhurya) is securely grounded on poetry which is full of this sentiment.” Though laughter, by its explosiveness, is characterized by expansiveness (vikâsa) of the psyche which pertains particularly to the poetic quality called ‘energy’ (ojas), hâsya, unlike the other rasas, where either ‘energy’ or ‘sweetness’ predominates, is characterized equally by both ojas and mâdhurya, the latter quality being due especially to its essential role in shrngâra. “Because of its being accessory to shrngâra, hâsya has mâdhurya as predominant; due to its expansive nature ojas too is dominant—thus both are equally present” (Raghavan, Shrngâra Prakâsha, p.326). The ojas element is also included because hâsya potentially contains within itself all the other rasas as constituents of its bisociative affective structure. When those characterized by ‘energy’ like anger, enthusiasm or terror predominate they naturally impregnate the hâsya itself with this quality and one may expect such hâsya to be much more akin to the laughter of worldly hâsa, since these ‘inflamed’ (dîpta) emotions are released thereby). “Hâsya need not be ancillary to shrngâra only. It can be introduced in other rasas as well. It is mainly of the form of vikâsa and springing from ânanda (‘joy’), it can be justified that it has mâdhurya and dîpti as Abhinavagupta says” (Raghavan, ibid., pp.326-27). The conclusion is that whereas the hâsya of the Kaishikî mode depicting shrngâra is characterized chiefly by ‘sweetness’ (mâdhurya), the hâsya and hâsa depicted primarily in the ‘farce’ (prahasana), and to some xtent in the vidûshaka, reveals a greater proportion of ‘energy’ (ojas). Mâdhurya corresponds to the process of aesthetic identification (tanmayîbhavana) without which shrngâra and especially karuna (‘pathos’) cannot arise (cf. chapter VII, pp.212-23 and note 5). This is clear from Abhinava’s understanding of the (term) ârdratâ (‘melting of the heart’) into which the ‘sweetness’ of shrngâra is transformed when it reaches its highest pitch in karuna through the intermediate degree of ‘love-in-separation’ (vipralambha). He glosses this ‘melting’ (ârdratâ) with “the shedding of the natural hardness (of indifference) due to non-participation” (non-identification). But since hâsya is incompatible with ‘pathos’ (karuna) and of limited scope in love-in-separation, precisely due to the intensification of the pathetic element, it is through its vital role in ‘love-in-union’ (sambhoga) that it acquires the rich mellowness of mâdhurya. Hence, hâsya as accessory to shrngâra, being more dependent on aesthetic identification (tanmayîbhavana) for its relish, is closer to the status of rasa proper than that where ‘energy’ (ojas) predominates and such identification is less crucial. But before we attempt to answer the question why hâsya should be an unavoidable vyabhicârin only in the case of (shrngâra) love (-in-union, sambhoga), it will be both illuminating and refreshing to examine some typical examples of ‘love-suffused-with-humor’ (sahâsya-shrngâra). As we shall see, it is the very vyabhicârins (‘transitory emotions’) that are constitutive of (the inter-personal psychology of) love, all of them depending on aesthetic identification, that simultaneously become indispensable constituents of hâsya.
But first, a word of clarification. Since there may always be disagreement between literary critics as to whether a particular verse really contains an essential element of hâsya and, if so, as to where and how exactly the hâsyaintervenes in the movement of the versified portraiture, we have restricted our analyses to those verses overflowing with shrngâra where at least one of the characters is explicitly described as laughing at a particular point in the development (usually towards the end). Thereby, we can not only assure ourselves that hâsya is really present, but we also have a criterion (namely, the point of intervention) for deciding which factors in the total situation are relevant and which irrelevant for the humor.
But here the objection will certainly be raised that in the rasa-aesthetics, the rasa, and generally the transitory emotion (vyabhicârin) too like hâsa, should never be expressed directly and explicitly but only suggested through relevant determinants (vibhâvas) and consequents (anubhâvas)—the defect of “denotation by its own name” (sva-shabda-vâcyatâ, ad. Dhvanyâloka I.4). A further objection may be that the laughing person cannot, by our own argument, be the receptacle (âshraya) of hâsya for, our laughter being provoked by his laughter, it would be only a case of Abhinava’s category of “laughter residing in (deriving from) another” (parastha-hâsa; cf. p.222).
Both these objections can be easily answered by pointing out that the prime function of the hâsa here is to signal the presence of a bisociated cognition which is the cause of and hence independent of it. To be more correct, from the point of view of the connoisseur (sahrdaya), the hâsa induces us to organize the given elements into a bisociative pattern that will render the total situation coherent by justifying the laughter. To so this, it is wholly unnecessary that our own laughter be provoked by the mere description (S) “he laughed,” which is not all infectious like the real-life laughter in parasthahâsa. If, as sahrdayas, we cannot help smiling, this is because, alerted by the mention of hâsa, we immediately grasp the humor of the situation, which may otherwise have escaped our attention. Having grasped the humor, it now appears to us that we are participating in the hâsa of the âshraya. But we do so only by participating at the same time, and more fundamentally, in the bisociated affective structure underling this hâsa; a bisociation where, unlike the usual unspecifiable character of worldly hâsa or of many jokes, both components are easily isolable and relishable in themselves (cf. chapter III, p.102). It is therefore a genuine instance of the tasting of the finest hâsya through aesthetic identification with the bisociated perception of the âshraya, and not the more familiar case of direct laughter at a stimulus under the purely catalytic influence of another’s laughter (parasthahâsa). Since these components are distinguishable in terms of their separate determinants and consequents (not to be confused with consequents of hâsa proper such as smile, laugh, etc.) and the hâsya is not evoked by the mere mention of hâsa, the defect of svashabdavâcyatâ too does not arise, There is, moreover, even less occasion for this defect when we realize that the laughter inscribed in the poem, the laughter which is the starting point of our analyses, is not the transitory emotion (vyabhicârin) hâsa but only its physical manifestation (anubhâva, but see note 46 below). With these preliminaries we may safely undertake the necessary surgical dissections without reducing the fragility of the living poem to the lifeless rigidity of the show-room cadaver. The examples to follow are both psychological analyses of the objective situations of laughter in order to reveal its underlying bisociative structure, and also samples of literary criticism pursuing the process whereby the sahrdaya’s perception exploits this structure to relishhâsya.
We may begin with the second invocatory verse, addressed to Gaurî, of that delightful nâtikâ of king Harshadeva, Ratnâvalî, from which Abhinava so often draws his examples, especially of the comic—it lays down, as it were, the predominant mood of the play to follow:
Starting in haste in her eagerness, speeding back through inborn bashfulness,
Again urged forward with those familiar coaxing of her kinswomen,
Seized with trepidation before her husband on her first meeting,
With sprouting horripilation as she was embraced by the laughing Hara;
May this fair Gaurî be ever favorable to you!
According to the accepted canons of literary practice, following Ânandavardhana, the mention of transitory emotions (vyabhicârins) like eagerness, shame, fear, etc., by their own names is not conducive to the evocation of rasa¸even if their respective vibhâvas and anubhâvas have been portrayed. Such mention is not only superfluous but actually detrimental to rasa. Mammata, however, cites this verse in order to show that sometimes even this is not a defect. The haste and the turning back, as also the horripilation, would not be specific enough if the vyabhicârins responsible for the anubhâvas had not been mentioned. Otherwise, one could easily associate these actions with a whole range of transitory emotions, with the result that they would convey nothing in particular. But Mammata’s justification is not satisfactory for, on these grounds, it would be possible, with a little stretching, to justify almost all cases where the mention of the vyabhicârins by name accompanies and is accompanied by the relevant anubhâvas and vibhâvas. But we know very well that even in such cases, the poet’s skill falls short of the ideal of portraying the rasa without mention of the vyabhicârins.
In our opinion, such mention here in no way contradicts the accepted canon, but only seems to do so. It would have been a defect if merely meant to communicate the mental state of Gaurî, and no more. But in fact they serve the additional function transforming her anubhâvas into the vibhâvas of, not only hâsa in Hara but hâsya in the connoisseur (sahrdaya). It is the mention of the eagerness (autsukhya) and the bashfulness (hrî) that throws into sharp contrast the hastening forth and the turning back and makes them appear mutually incongruous for, in fact, both these conflicting transitory emotions arise from the single underlying abiding emotion (sthâyin) of love (rati). Similarly, her terror in the presence of Hara, also arising from deep love, is only half the reason for her sprouting horripilation. The hairs standing on end is also symptomatic of intense and indescribable bliss and this meaning, this transitory emotion of joy (harsha), although unmentioned by name, is clearly suggested by her being embraced by Hara while in this condition. The sprouting horripilation plays a role analogous to the verbal pun in jokes: it simultaneously reveals fear (mentioned) and bliss (unmentioned but evident) and the incongruity of the two evokes hâsya in the onlooker. What sprouted as fear no doubt blossomed as bliss. If the transitory trepidation (sâdhvasa) had not been mentioned there would have been no bisociation centering on the manifestation of horripilation. That all these reactions of Gaurî are seen in an incongruous light by Hara is indicated by his laughter and thereby the connoisseur (sahrdaya) too is induced to focus his attention, through the eyes of Hara himself as it were, on the presented incongruities. Another incongruity is that her very attempts to conceal her overpowering love only reveal it all the more forcefully and renders her all the more charming as a determinant (vibhâva) of love (shrngâra). It is clear then that , if the defect of “direct denotation” (svashabda-vâcyatâ) does not in any way detract from the poetic excellence of this verse, this is because the mentioned transitory emotions (vyabhicârins) positively contribute to the hâsya which is not mentioned.
But why is this an example of “love with humor as ancillary” (sahâsya-shrngâra) and not of humor itself as arising from the “semblance of love” (shrngârâbhâsa)? Because all the transitory emotions, consequent reactions (anubhâvas) and determinants are suggestive of love (rati) and do not contradict the latter as in the case of Râvana’s love for Sîtâ. The incongruity is only between the transitory emotions (fear and bliss) and between the consequents (hastening and retreating), and the hâsya produced with these as determinants (vibhâvas) is itself a transitory emotion of shrngâra, for its constituents are all arising from love. Further, it should be noted that, though both Gaurî and Hara are receptacles (âshrayas) of mutual love, it is only Hara who is the âshraya of hâsa.
The following verse from Amaru is cited by Dhanika to illustrate Dhanañjaya’s hâsya-based sub-category of narma-garbha (see n.10 above), where the lover proceeds stealthily in order to achieve some purpose. Here the lover on entering sees both his beloveds seated side by side on the same bench and, though intent on amorous sport, is faced with the dilemma of satisfying both without provoking the jealousy of the other, especially that of the senior:
Seeing his darlings seated together, stealing upon them from behind,
With due reverence, blindfolding the elder as if intent on play,
Slightly turning his neck towards the other……
……Her heart blossoming with horripilating love,
her cheeks flushed with suppressed laughter…..
He kisses her, the rogue!
The incongruity here centers on the act of blindfolding the elder. The latter takes it as a manifestation of his love, even partiality, for her, and is thereby pleased with him. She is no way the receptacle (âshraya) of hâsya. The younger perceives this aspect of the blindfolding but is at the same time amused and delighted that her lover has resorted to such devious tactics merely in order to demonstrate his love for herself without the knowledge of the other. The blindfolding is ambiguous and ambivalent in that it simultaneously reveals his (apparent) partiality for the elder and conceals his (real) partiality for the younger. The latter suppresses her laughter in order to go along with the game and to enjoy his favor. Neither has cause for jealousy and both are satisfied, though only one is amused, because each considers herself the object of special favor. But there is also a second and subtler level of humor in that in reality it is himself that the sly lover has most favored for he has flirted with both simultaneously while allowing each the privilege of considering herself the favored one. The sahrdaya is struck by the incongruity of an apparently impossible situation suddenly transformed into an ideal love-scene by the lover’s flash of amorous inspiration and his skill in the crooked ways of love (vijnâna). All three are determinants (vibhâva) of shrngâra and their reactions are also its consequents (anubhâvas) but hâsa is a transitory emotion especially of the younger and it induces the connoisseur (sahrdaya) to focus on the incongruity of its determinant, namely the blindfolding. As in the previous example, hâsya does not contradict the shrngâra here but is ancillary to it. For the opposed meanings of the blindfolding, though neutralizing each other to generate hâsa, are both conducive to shrngâra especially in the lover. The flushing of the cheeks is not only a consequent of hâsya but also consequent and determinant of shrngâra.
The next verse, also from Amaru, is twice cited by the Dhvanikâra, Ânanadavardhana, first to demonstrate how the delineation of the figures of speech should always be subservient and conducive to rasa, and secondly, to show how opposing rasas should be kept secondary to the main or intended sentiment (rasa) to avoid marring the sentiment. Abhinava cites it independently for a third time to show how the effect of contrary transitory emotions (vyabhicârins) should be immediately countered by delineating such vyabhicârins as would nourish the intended rasa as well:
Tightly bound in the noose of tender quivering creeper-like arms,
Angrily dragged to her private chamber before all her friends at dusk,
His misdeeds laid bare by her accusing finger,
with sweet faltering admonishments of “Never again!”
Though pleading his innocence, beaten indeed is the blessed lover,
laughing while his darling weeps!
The offending lover with tell-tale marks of infidelity, like nail-wounds, on his body is here figuratively compared with a criminal bound in chains, dragged to the prison before his protesting kinsfolk, his crime publicly broadcast by his executrix and punished even as he persists in denying his guilt. The metaphor, beautifully suggested but not carried to completion, provides supreme nourishment to the intended rasa which is shrngâra. As Abhinava remarks: “If the description of her creeper-like arms as a noose for binding had been carried to its logical conclusions making the beloved an executrix, her bed-chamber a prison or cage, etc., there would have been great impropriety…. Her voice falters under the influence of anger but is also sweet…. He is indeed beaten, i.e., the intercessions of her friends on his behalf are unheeded, for who can tolerate the cheek (hypocrisyJ) of this fellow, who, through his laughter is both intent on hiding his offence and also most dear to me.” The initial metaphor with its reverberations through the rest of the verse serves to develop the aesthetic sentiment of anger (raudra), but it is not culminated because anger is destructive of love (rati) and has to be kept subservient to the latter. Abhinava explains that the consequents of anger superimposed by the force of the metaphor, such as “bound,” “beaten,” etc. are left undeveloped, for this very reason and both maxims, that governing figures and that relating to contrary sentiments are ensured through a single stroke. He further analyzes the to show the anger, or rather the indignation (amarsha), introduced by notations like “tightly bound” is immediately accompanied by the ascertainment (anusandhâna) of jealousy, eagerness and delight, favorable (to love) from expressions like “weeps” and “laughing.” The reason for this detailed exposition will become clear by the end of this chapter, but here we are interested primarily in the humor in the verse.
The lover laughs not only out of sheer delight but because he finds his situation and his beloved’s actions highly incongruous. The oppressive noose is none other than the ardently sought for love-embrace of her arms quivering ambiguously with the intensity not only of anger but of love. Her voice faltering with anger at his unspeakable offence rings out sweeter than ever. And to be beaten by his dearest is the surest guarantee that he has not lost an iota of her love. Those very gestures that are meant as punishment are instead the springs of delight and it is the sharp incongruity between the anger they suggest and his love’s yearning they fulfill that makes the lover laugh. His laughter infuriates her all the more as he shows no repentance, and she beats him all the more desperately, delighting him all the more thereby. However, hâsya is ancillary to shrngâra because its negative component of anger is itself determined to be the manifestation of love on realizing that the beloved is weeping throughout—thus all the emotions including the anger and laughter are seen to be ultimately the transitory affects (vyabhicârins) of love (rati). Here again, though both are âshrayas of shrngâra, only the lover is the âshraya of hâsya.
The last verse, also from Amaru, is cited by Abhinava in his Locana, as an example of the suggestion of the “cessation of a transitory emotion” (bhâva-prashama). An exceptional delight is offered by the skilful presentation of the fading away of a passing mood, and that is why it is privileged as a separate category. According to Abhinava, the verse under discussion captures the subsiding of pride having jealous resentment (sulking) as its essence. But the same verse is again analyzed by Abhinava in his Abhinavabhâratî to show how vipralambha and sambhoga are not mutually exclusive but each necessarily includes the other. His remarks, if their implications are drawn out, will already permit the critically attentive reader to appreciate why hâsya is an inevitable ancillary of sambhoga-shrngâra. “Both these conditions (sambhoga and vipralambha) are pervaded by love (rati), in the form of the mutual bond of affection, which on being relished becomes shrngâra…. This is why in sambhoga there is the fear of the possibility of separation (vipralambha) and vipralambha too is penetrated by the imaginative desire for union (sambhoga). Such is the nature of shrngâra. Where there is rati in the form of the bond of mutual affections, it includes within itself longing, jealousy, exile and other conditions. Hence terms like ‘sambhoga-shrngâra’ are used figuratively, by extension even when there is no sexual union. That is why it is the blending of these two conditions that is indeed truly of supreme aesthetic appeal. As in:
Lying together in the bed
They kept a sullen silence grim,
Faces averted and suffocating with pride
Though hearts relented within,
And not a word to her he said
And she refused to speak to him.
But glances chance to interlace:
A moment’s pause, and both thereafter
Forget resentment and……….
dissolving in a gale of laughter
[Amarashataka no. 21]
Here there is the supreme experience of rasa in the form of the blending of ‘separation-due-to-jealousy’ and union, produced by determinants, consequents and transitory emotions pertaining to both (âshrayas) but having a single essence…. Like the performance of bath, etc. (the representation of mere) sexual union (bhoga) is devoid of any rasa.”
The cause of laughter here is again the sudden juxtaposition of jealousy, resentment and pride on the one hand, and the outburst of impatient desire (autsukya) on the other. In fact, a neighboring verse of Amaru, which is a variation of the same theme, is cited by Mammata as an instance of the sister-category of “the rise of a transitory emotion” (bhâvodaya), in this case too the emergence of autsukya. If we place the two verses side-by-side and compare their movement, we discover that actually both reveal a cessation of anger (bhâva-prashama) interrupted by the eruption of eager passion (bhâvodaya). The only difference is that in the first verse the focus is on the (subsiding of) anger (the laughing reconciliation being relegated to the final compound), whereas in the second the limelight has been displaced to the (abrupt manifestation of) impatient desire. The laughter in our verse intervenes at precisely that point where the negative emotions are swept away by the flood of overpowering desire. Since the opposing vyabhicârins arise like from mutual rati and have the same objects for vibhâva, the point where they meet is characterized by incongruity and bisociation producing abundant laughter, which itself melts into the passion of (sambhoga-) shrngâra. Similarly, those very gestures which were consequents (anubhâvas) of resentment like the mutual averting of faces and the unbearable silence, now, through the intermediary of the sidelong glances, themselves become the determinants (vibhâvas) of eager longing. Here both are receptacles (âshrayas) of hâsya which is ancillary to shrngâra, and the pleasurable release of tension through laughter serves only to intensify and variegate the consuming pleasure of the love-embrace into which it must no doubt fade. Thus speaking of the compatibilities of specific rasas, Abhinava says: “It is indeed wholly clear that hâsya however is ancillary to shrngâra. Although hâsya in itself does not serve any of the goals-of-life (purushârthas – literally, is not of the nature of purushârtha), it provides an abundance of pleasurable entertainment and (hence) assumes such a function (of serving the purushârtha of sexual gratification kâma) only by being made an integral element of shrngâra.” Thus , not only from the aesthetic but also from the socio-religious (rather than “ethical”) angle, Abhinava considers hâsya to be the natural ancillary of shrngâra-rasa.
We are now in a position, after having analyzed all these instances in the never-failing light of Abhinava’s critical acumen, to determine the exact role of hâsya in sambhoga, why it is an inevitable transitory emotion (vyabhicârin) of the latter. Of course, it adds its specific pleasure to the relish of shrngâra but this is insufficient to make it indispensable to the psychology of the latter. The depiction of the loving people in vipralambha poses no special problems, for the remembrance or anticipation of sambhoga (past or future) serves only to heighten the pangs of present separation—there is no clash between the two. But the treatment of sambhoga is rather problematic in the sense that actual sexual union cannot be depicted. Not only would that be tasteless but it would involve the connoisseur personally provoking his disgust, etc., and risk degenerating into pornography. At the same time, however, pleasure in mutual contact and interaction must be presented and exploited to the maximum, without which there would be no scope at all for sambhoga-shrngâra (remember that even the averting of the face due to jealousy may suffice to disqualify an instance into the realm of vipralambha). The only way to achieve this without presenting the actual union itself (or at least without focusing the attention on it, in the rare cases where it is unavoidable) is to maintain a necessary tension through negative emotions like fear (trâsa), anger (amarsha), envy (îrshyâ), pride (garva), etc., with respect to the loved one himself (or, less frequently, herself). But if done indiscriminately, their introduction is sure to mar the sentiment of shrngâra. Abhinava following Ânandavardhana’s cue, has insisted that wherever opposing vyabhicârins are brought into the picture they should be immediately countered by vyabhicârins proper to the main rasa. In the case of (sambhoga) shrngâra, a further device is invariably used and whose exploitation has been amply demonstrated by the verses analyzed above: the very vibhâvas and anubhâvas of these transitory emotions are presented in such a way as to be susceptible of being simultaneously interpreted as the vibhâvas and anubhâvas of positive vyabhicârins of rati.
This technique has full scope in sambhoga-shrngâra because, unlike the general case of the other rasas including vipralambha, mutuality here is at the maximum, and the anubhâvas of each receptacle (âshraya) become the vibhâvas of the other’s rati and vice-versa. Whereas Gaurî’s bashfulness makes Hara laugh because it is immediately preceded by her eagerness, her horripilation does so because it simultaneously suggests fear and delight. The blindfolding of the elder beloved is comic only because it simultaneously evokes and neutralizes the mutual jealousy of the two women with respect to their lover. The very acts of punishment which pretend to angrily reject the lover tickle him by the pleasurable proximity they impose. Their very estrangement renders the “bed-ridden” couple all the more desirable to each other, the sharp juxtaposition of the two conflicting moods resolving itself into unrestrained laughter. We thus see that all these techniques of judiciously introducing negative emotions to maintain the necessary tension and variety in the proximity of sambhoga all rely on the bisociative technique that constitutes the very soul of hâsa and hâsya. On the emotional plane, the permanent emotion (sthâyin) hâsa depends on the mutual neutralization of two opposing emotions, the one positive and the other negative, such that their energies are harmlessly discharged in the form of laughter-response. Hâsya is the Aestheticization of this basic emotional bisociation and is especially brought about when its constituent emotions, which can include all the other rasas, are evoked through identification (tanmayîbhavana) with particular protagonists (âshrayas) experiencing them. The tensions generated by the negative emotions and neutralized by the positive emotions projected simultaneously or in rapid succession, are released through laughter affording a pleasure that enhances and, to some extent, even substitutes itself for the pleasure of sambhoga. This is less applicable to love-in-separation (vipralambha) which exploits precisely the intensification of these tensions. The sahrdaya’s appreciation, however, is not focused on the presented (and more often not presented) resultant laughter, but on the delicate balance between opposing emotions, relishing them in the form of a humor that renders all the more piquant his enjoyment of shrngâra.
This explanation of the role of hâsya in shrngâra at the same time helps us to account for its absence from the definition of the remaining two sub-divisions of the Kaishikî mode, viz. narmasphiñja and narmasphota. Though they do not specifically make use of hâsya as ancillary, they either make more direct use of the negative emotions to avoid the consummation (sambhoga) of love or else depict shrngâra in such a manner as to restrain the elements of sambhoga. The firs alternative is exploited in narma-sphiñja (or narma-spanda) which “begins with delight and culminates in fear on the occasion of the first union of lovers.” Abhinava emphasizes that it is their meeting itself that, due to the clear manifestation of the mutual bond of affection (rati) accompanied by its various paraphernalia like (amorous) costume and speech, is called ‘love-in-union’ (sambhoga, and not the depiction of the physical act itself). He suggests that the fear at the end should (preferably?) be provoked by the sudden advent of the previous beloved, just as in ‘The Jeweled Necklace’ Ratnâvalî (the appearance of the queen Vâsavadattâ poses) an obstacle to the consummation of the union of king Udayana with Sâgarikâ. In that case, the fear itself, being derived from amorous jealousy, is not contrary to shrngâra and may contribute to hâsya. Even where fear is destructive of shrngâra, due to the nature of its ‘determinant’ (vibhâva), its role is somewhat analogous to that of the negative emotions in hâsya.
The second alternative is illustrated by narma-sphota where “there is only a slight revelation of a variety of inner feelings through faint indications, such that the incipient rasa is not fully developed.” Abhinava includes hâsa as well in his enumeration of these undeveloped ‘transitory emotions’ (vyabhicâri-bhâvas) such as fear, joy, timidity, anger, etc., which apparently includes all the negative emotions, which should be only partially present. But though these should not be developed into rasas, they nevertheless interact with the underlying shrngâra, and it is significant that the example given by Abhinava firstly manifests the element of hâsa before that of anger (raudra). In Act II.14 of Ratnâvalî, circumstances conspire to bring the lovelorn Sâgarikâ into the presence of the king, before whom she is speechless and paralyzed. Her maid Susangatâ says teasingly: “Friend, for whose sake you came here, that verily stands before thee,” Sâgarikâ snubs (sâsûyam) her: “Friend, for whose sake have i come here?” at which the maid replies: “Oh you suspicious (of some other meaning behind my words) one! For the picture-board, of course! So take it.” This angers, to our amusement, Sâgarikâ who retorts (sarosham): “Come off it! I am not schooled in this kind of chatter.” Here the double-entendre of Susangatâ’s words referring simultaneously to the king and the picture-board introduces a lively element of humor. More interesting is that even the semblance of ‘anger’ (raudra) assumed by Sâgarikâ only serves to add to the humor of the situation because it is contradicted by the eagerness, still persisting, with which she had just portrayed the king on this very picture-board. The mechanism of hâsya takes the element of indignation in its stride and reintegrates it into the profuse variegation of shrngâra, in accordance with the principle already formulated above. Thus there is always much scope for hâsya in narmasphota, if not directly, at least through the skilful exploitation of fragments of other sentiments so as to produce bisociative effects. Where there is no hâsya involved, the possibilities of representing the mutual pleasures of ‘love-in-union’ (sambhoga) are reduced and the manifestations of inner love are restrained if not faint. Even those instances of narma proper which are devoid of hâsya are generally more on the side of ‘love-in-separation’ (vipralambha) than of sambhoga.
The relation hâsya and shrngâra is therefore not at all an adventitious one but belongs to the very nature and technique of the presentation of shrngâra in poetry and drama. In all these examples of hâsya based on shrngâra and subordinate to the latter, the vital role of aesthetic identification (tanmayîbhavana) in the genesis of shrngâra is extended to the relishing of hâsya as well. The sahrdaya sees the various gestures of the lovers from multiple points of view through identifying himself simultaneously, or in rapid succession, with the various protagonists (âshrayas) presented. It is at those strategic points where contrary perceptions, each with its own undercurrent of aesthetic emotion, clash that hâsya reverberates. This hâsya is necessarily suffused with all the sweetness (mâdhurya) of shrngâra itself. Though hâsya and the comic have also an intellectual and physical aspect, the rasa-aesthetic privileges above all the “emotional center” in its treatment of hâsya proper.
[this concludes chapter VIII on “The Role of Hâsya in Shrngâra”]